Bunny Love: Ideas for a Healthier Easter Basket

I went shopping for my kids Easter baskets this week.  They are beyond thrilled that the hoppity hoppity bunny is on his way!  There is much bunny love going on at our house right now.  Except for the fact that neither of them wants to actually go see the Easter bunny.  Cracks me up!  I get so excited living vicariously through them.  Remember how fun holidays were when we were kids?  I do.  Easter was especially fun with all that yummy goodness I found in my basket!

Instead of mounds of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, or marshmallow Peeps, I aim to live out a healthier Easter tradition with my kiddos.  A bit different from the way we celebrated Easter as a kid.  I try to be creative and avoid putting tons of candy in their baskets.  They each get one chocolate bunny sucker and that’s pretty much it for sweets.  Instead of sugary treats, I might bag up some healthy snacks or throw some organic fruit gummies in there.  My kids love when they get little ‘gifts’ for Easter and they don’t even notice the amount of candy in their baskets is practically zilch.

Ideas for healthier Easter basket treats:

  • Organic Granola
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies*
  • Organic Trail Mix
  • Homemade oatmeal cookies
  • Organic Raisins*
  • Annie’s Gummy Bunnies*
  • Dark chocolate covered pretzels or raisins
  • Yummy Earth* lollipops, gummy bears, sour worms

Ideas for themed Easter baskets or Easter bags or Easter pails:

  • Garden Basket- Fill the basket with all things gardening!  Gloves, garden tools, seeds, small pots, sun hat, garden mat.
  • Dress-up Basket- Fill it with a tu-tu and wings, superman shirt, batman mask, lady bug costume, etc.
  • Outside Play Basket- Jump rope, chalk, jacks, beach gear, sunglasses, shovel and pal, sunscreen, etc.
  • Arts and Crafts Basket- Paints, crayons, coloring books, art pads, markers.
  • Doll Basket: You can buy a small doll or fill the basket with accessories for a doll your child already has. There are so many doll clothes, shoes, hats, bottles, and bags to choose from.  If you have a daughter, you already know this.
  • My Favorite Color Basket- Use your child’s favorite color for inspiration and fill, fill, fill!
  • Sports/Hobby Basket- Chess lover, make-up artist, dancer, singer…endless possibilities.
  • Book Basket- Your child’s favorite author and an array of new books to read.

There are countless ideas to make this Easter happy and healthy for your family!  All you have to do is think outside the box!

What are you putting in your kids Easter baskets this year?

*A little FYI:
  • Yummy Earth is certified organic, gluten-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, and has no chemical colors, artificial flavors, or high fructose corn syrup.
  • Annie’s Gummy Bunnies are certified organic and made with no added preservatives, vegan, gelatin-free, gluten-free, and absolutely NO artificial colorings.
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies are non-gmo and no sugar added.
  • Newman’s Own Organic Raisins are USDA certified organic  and high in antioxidants.

“Bunny Love” was originally published in April 2012 by Mommy OM.

Refocus Your Focus

istock photo by lovelens

istock photo by lovelens

Meditation every day can be tough. Daunting even. Most often, it may seem like work. Work that you just don’t have time for. Work that frustrates more than calms. Work that fits nowhere into the list of priorities you have set for your day. After all, mediation is the art of focus. Focusing 100% of your attention in one specific area. Actively engaging your mind and body in mediation is a process. A process that at first may not come easily.

A few steps to help simplify the task of meditation:

1. Let your breath be your guide. Listen to the sound of your inhale and exhale. Take even breaths. In and out. In and out. In other words, don’t concentrate so hard that you start to hyperventilate. Yes. This has happened to me. I became so fixated on the act of breathing that I needed a brown paper bag and a cold wash cloth. <Pfft. Snort. It’s funny now.>

2. Find your purpose. Spiritual? Connectedness? Relaxation? All of the above? Remember that your purpose in each meditation can and will change. Today, my purpose was to wallow in the depths of a silent room. As time ticked slowly and silently by. Tick. Tick. Tick. 

3. Consciously clear your mind of frustration, stress, anxiety, and fearRepeat after me: It’s okay the baby didn’t sleep through the night. It’s okay that I’m tired. It’s okay that the kids threw trains at each other’s heads (granted no one was seriously hurt). It’s okay. It’s okay. I promise. 

4. Adjust your body to a position of renewal. Lotus pose. Tree pose. Child’s pose. Corpse pose. Sleep pose. 

5. Be grateful. Practice awareness outside of formal mediation. Find your breath actively during each day. Take in the beauty that surrounds you. The warmth of the winter sun. The purity of your child’s face. The kindness in your best friend’s actions. The umpteenth time you’ve stepped on a freakin’ Lego. Breathe. Be grateful. The pain in your foot will subside, that is – until next time. <oooommmmmmm.>

hang up the gloves

gloves

When it comes to motherhood, all bets are off. Any woman out there will tell you that having a baby changes everything. Motherhood is an incredibly important job AND an incredibly hard job. There is no instruction manual to follow. No step-by-step guide for guaranteed success. We all just take a deep breath and jump in.

That being said, there is an enormous amount of pressure for us to do everything the “right way” when it comes to raising a family. This pressure comes from expectations we’ve set for ourselves, as well as from outside sources such as our own moms, family members, friends and yes, even strangers. And probably the harshest critics of all: OTHER MOMS. No one tells you before you become a mom that you will soon be entering the Mommy Wars. A place where everyone has an opinion of what you’re doing wrong, what you should be doing instead, and why they want to punch you in the throat.

I think one of the hottest topics when it comes to bringing up babies is breast-feeding. There seems to be this ongoing war between moms about the pressures to breast feed, the successes and failures, how long to do it (short-term, extended), and the thought that bottle-feeding (not only formula, but breast milk as well- yikes!) somehow makes you inferior as a mother. This is all a bunch of malarkey. While everyone clearly understands that breast milk is best, there are barriers that keep 100% of all moms from breast-feeding. Some of these include milk production (or lack thereof), premature deliveries, latching problems, medications, single-parenting, working full-time, lack of support, etc., etc. Add to those the fact that breast-feeding is certainly not all sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and lemon drops all of the time.

Breast-feeding is hard work. Bleeding nipples, cracked nipples, inverted nipples, flat nipples, blah, blah, ouch. Exhaustion, confusion, infection. Cradle hold, cross-over hold, football hold. The list goes on and on. You know what else is hard work? Yep, you guessed it- everything else that goes along with having a new baby in your life.

I am a breast-feeding mom. I extended breast-fed both of my children well past one year of age. I was extremely lucky and my babies were perfect little latchers. I had a great supply (I seriously could have fed a small country) and everything just seemed to click for me. What does this mean for you? Really, it should mean nothing. I am not in competition with you. I do what’s best for my kids and my family and I would expect you to do the same.

The greatest caveat to achieving and maintaining the health of my children and myself is AWARENESS.  It is unacceptable for me to “just go with the flow” so to say when it comes to decisions that impact my family. It takes education, tons of reading, mucho support, and positive assurance to stand firm in my beliefs. I take what I learn and apply it to my life as best I can. If others warrant my opinion or advice, then I give it. I’ve created this blog to help, not to divide.

The bottom line: Be informed, confident and secure in the choices you make for your kids and there will be absolutely no room for others to knock you down. Be willing to have an open mind and to think critically outside that big old box.

I can only hope that sometime soon we see motherhood as a journey we’re all facing together.

So ladies, whatta ya say-

Shall we hang up the gloves?

Hang Up the Gloves is an oldie but goodie. It was published March 2, 2012 on newhealthom.com

Encourage Your Kids Fashion Personality

ellabeautiful

Children are naturally expressive. Their diverse personalities are reflected through their voice, body movements, imaginations, and teachings. We learn more and more about our children as they grow: What makes them giggle. What makes them cry. Their favorite foods. Favorite colors. Blocks versus Legos. Crayons versus paint. More importantly, children too, learn to identify with themselves through the choices they make as they continually strive for independence.

One great way to encourage personality development and expression is through clothing. From early on, it is essentially ‘we the parents’ who define our children through their clothing. The clothing we choose for our infants and toddlers usually reflects our own sense of ideals, beliefs, and style. But soon, even younger children begin to show signs of fondness for certain colors, textures, and patterns in clothing. Long sleeves versus short. Stripes versus polka dots. Skirts versus pants. Most often, children will naturally gravitate towards apparel which reflects how they are feeling in that particular moment.

You may have a child who loves to wear tutu’s and princess crowns all day long. Or one that wears his favorite blue t-shirt every single day no matter what. A superhero who needs a red cape. A little one who won’t go anywhere without flowers in her hair and mismatched plaids and prints. Rain boots in winter and snow boots in summer. Sunglasses, hats, knitted scarves, etc. As long as they are safe and dressed in what is deemed “appropriate,” I say let them get creative.

By allowing our kids the freedom to decide we are instilling and encouraging not only sense of self, but critical thinking, positive assertion, and problem solving skills. And along with our guidance and love, these kids are destined to be little rock stars in their own right.

baby, it’s cold outside

babycoldout

The winter blues are in full swing here at my house and this family is in need of some sort of “lifting of the winter spirits” exercise. You know, maybe something where we all get together in the morning, stand holding hands in a circle, and chant for the sun gods to shine some light and send some heat and bathing suit weather our way. I don’t know about where you live, but winter can get pretty damn depressing in the northeast. Every day is like groundhog day. Get up, look outside- cloudy. Make breakfast, get the kids dressed, start the car- freeze my ass off. Run back into the house, bundle the kids up in winter jackets-boots-hats-mittens, and scoot them out the door as quickly as possible- would you look at that it’s raining/sleeting/snowing/a blizzard. And pretty much every morning, I have the same conversation with my kids as we leave the house. Here’s my end:

“Hurry up and get in, I need to buckle you my head is getting wet.”

“Yes, you have to wear your hat, it’s cold.”

“Because I said so.”

“No, you can’t open your window.”

“Your boogies will freeze.”

“Sorry, but we can’t play outside today.”

“How are you going to roller skate in slush?”

“Your bike is put away for the winter.”

“I’m pretty sure your training wheels wouldn’t make it through that snow bank.”

“The park is closed.”

“Because they took the swings down.”

“No, we can’t go swimming.”

“Baby, it’s cold outside.”

As a mom of two very active and energetic young kids, the best way to keep them happy and thus maintain my sanity is to open the door and let them go, go, go. In spring, we throw on our rain gear and stomp in muddy puddles. In summer, we ride bikes, run through sprinklers, and picnic under a shady tree. In fall, we take hikes and go on nature walks.

Then comes winter.

It’s great in the beginning because the holiday season is in full throttle and the kids are preoccupied with Santa and sleigh rides. But then comes January, February, March. Can you say boring? After I’ve exhausted every do-it-yourself craft activity, book reading session, puzzle time, watch-mama-cook-dinner-fun, and the kids are still bouncing off the walls, it’s time to bundle them up and brave the cold.

My kids are desperate to get outdoors in the winter even when it’s 6 degrees and I can’t say I blame them. I’m desperate, too. Being cooped up inside (home, work, school) for months on end starts to take its toll. Any sign of sunlight and 30+ degree temperatures and my family is hitting the front yard like it’s an 80 degree beach day.

The benefits of keeping kids active during the winter are key to their optimum development and overall well-being. Outdoor exercise builds strong bones and muscles, reduces stress, strengthens immunity, releases endorphins in the body, increases much-needed Vitamin D levels, and allows for an overall better mood and night’s sleep.

So get outside with your kids even if it’s just for a brisk walk. And the next time you find yourself hauling out the Radio Flyer wagon and trudging through six inches of snow and slush in late January – take a deep breath, smile, and know that I am right there with ya.

Reblogged from February 2012 Archives by Mommy OM

Six Green Activities for Kids

wagon

Turn off the television. Power down the computer. Hand over the Nintendo DS. It’s time to unplug and get our heads thinking, our hands doing, and our bodies moving. Here are a few activities that can help develop a generation of kids that are mindful of their environment, themselves, and others.

1. Take a walk. Take a stroll, a wagon ride, a jog. Play tag, hide-and-go-seek, climb a tree. It really doesn’t matter. Just get your kids together and get outside. What better way to take in mother nature than to be surrounded by it? Point out the sunlight and how it feels on your face. Be conscious of your breath as you inhale the fresh air. Look up at the beautiful blue sky and twirl in circles. Round and round, again and again. Go on, get out there.

2. Read. Read. Read. Set aside the Kindle and Nook and head out to the local library for story time. If you don’t live close to a library pick some children’s books from your own collection. Sit down with the kids and have them turn the pages, point out characters, and pick their favorite parts. Get them involved in the story by letting them act out scenes from the book. Ask them questions about the story and listen closely as their imaginations run wild.

3. Yoga. Yoga gives kids (and adults too!) strength, flexibility, discipline, and balance. Yoga is a joyous way to connect with your mind and body. The challenges presented with each pose help to promote confidence and self-compassion. There are so many fun yoga poses for kids to do as well. Some of these include: Tree Pose (Vrksasana), Butterfly, Fish Pose (Matsyasana), Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), and Child’s Pose (Balasana).

4. Arts & Crafts. There’s nothing like covering the table in paper and pulling out the glue, crayons, paint, and glitter. So many fun memories to be made by drawing and creating original works of art. For added texture and style you can include yarn, buttons, popsicle sticks, aluminum cans, water bottles, and so on. Check out Pinterest for more ideas.

5. Garden. Ready. Set. Garden. Grab an old window box or use a beach pail. Have the kids shovel in some soil and plant some herbs together. If you have the ability to grow your own garden, get the kids involved with planning which fruits and vegetables or flowers to grow, when and where to plant them, and then break ground together. Plan a day to visit the local nursery and have the kids pick out their own gardening gloves and shovels. Gardening projects are a great way to encourage an eco-friendly lifestyle.

6. Prepare food together. Start by shopping at the local farmer’s market or ideally your own backyard garden. Teach your children the importance of supporting local food. Help them connect with their food by explaining how it is grown, packaged, and delivered. After the food is picked or bought, get the kids in the kitchen and show them how to wash it. Then prepare a dish together. Finally, sit down at the table and relish in the beauty of nourishing your body with healthy sustainable foods.

Hello Moon

Reblogging this one. Originally posted March 2012 by Mommy OM. Have a wonderful night.

Hello moon. It’s great to see you, finally. I’m freaking exhausted. I’ve looked forward to our rendezvous all day. You look beautiful as always. Bright and pure as you light up the night sky. Now excuse me while my head hits the pillow and my body lies still for the next six to eight hours (hopefully, fingers crossed). Hold on. I don’t know why I just said that. I jinxed myself.

Yep. Where’s some wood?

Knock on wood.

Knock on wood!

Knock on wood!

Quick.

Hurry up!

Whaaaa!!!”

Too late.

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson